Northern Rockies Regional Municipality

Managing & Avoiding Bear Encounters

Report bear and other wildlife encounters to the BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277

NRRM Conservation Officers are notified daily about sightings and  immediately in emergencies.

Bears and humans love the same habitats. There is a good chance you may encounter a bear in your backyard or on the trails in the NRRM. Being aware and prepared can help prevent potentially dangerous situations for humans and bears.


It is normal to be frightened when you encounter a bear, but remember that most bears prefer to avoid contact with humans. The best way to prevent an unpleasant bear encounter is to avoid them altogether.


How to avoid a bear encounter


Follow these tips to avoid bear encounters and help keep bears and people safe.

  1. Avoid moving through bear habitat silently or alone—instead, travel in groups and make noise.
  2. Avoid walking or biking on trails at dawn and dusk.
  3. Do not stop on the side of the road to view bears.
  4. Never feed or approach a bear. Keep your distance, back away slowly and leave the area.
  5. Manage your garbage and recycling, so bears can't access it. Put all garbage and recycling in wildlife-proof containers or enclosures.
  6. Manage other attractants, such as barbeques, bird feeders and fruit and berry bushes. Keep them clean or out of reach, so they don't tempt bears to hang around human-inhabited areas.
  7. Keep your dog on a leash. Dogs can provoke defensive and dangerous behaviour in bears

The main reason a bear will come near your home or place of work is for garbage, recycling or other food sources.


It is very important (and it's the law in ) to secure garbage and recycling in a wildlife-proof manner and keep other bear attractants clean and/or out of reach. View the Garbage Disposal and Wildlife Attractants Bylaw for details.


What to do if you encounter a bear

Understanding the bear's behaviour can help how you decide to react in a defensive or aggressive encounter.


Know what to do (link is external) in case of an encounter


Bluff Charges

A bluff charge is a form of defensive behaviour and indicates that the bear feels threatened and you, or your dog, are too close. It is when a bear charges at a person or dog and suddenly stops, or swerves, before making contact. This behaviour is most often the result of sows protecting cubs, bears defending a food source or due to a surprise encounter.


Here’s how you can protect bears from feeling threatened, bluff charging or becoming directly aggressive: 

  1. Keep your distance. Always leave at least 100 meters between you and a bear, particularly sows with cubs.
  2. Keep all dogs on leash. Dogs can provoke defensive and dangerous behaviour in bears. Repeated negative experiences with off-leash dogs lead bears to become aggressive towards all dogs and people.
  3. Carry bear spray. This is your best defence in case of a negative encounter.
  4. Make noise, especially when moving quickly or on trails with limitedvisibility.
  5. Remain alert. Remove headphones and look and listen for signs of wildlife activity.

Report human-wildlife conflicts by phoning 1.877.952.7277.

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